"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: What Has Laestadianism Contributed?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What Has Laestadianism Contributed?

I found a cool web site yesterday called World Prayers - Prayer Archive. According to the site description, it exists to gather "the great prayers from all spiritual traditions around the world into a unified nonprofit archive; for the purpose of inspiration, study and cross cultural appreciation."

I especially got a kick out of the Prayer Wheel. You can click to "spin" the wheel and get a random prayer.

I was struck by the similarities of prayer across very different religious traditions, as well as the differences.

The site has many Christian prayers from different cultures, and this of course made me wonder if there are any distinctively Laestadian prayers that could be added to the archive.

One of the things I find disappointing about Laestadianism that it hasn't created any great art or literature. It hasn't seemed to me as if it has created anything of beauty for the ages.

I would love to be mistaken on this point. So if you know of any examples of distinctively Laestadian prayer, art, or anything else, please post a comment.


  1. Art?! It was a sin to have a cross above the pulpit. Stained glass windows? I don't think so. The only thing people are encoureged to do is work in construction, women: Stay home and have children till your body gives out. then have one more for good measure. College? Never.

    I agree, it is to sad how many opportunities missed. My husband still feels cheated he wasn't allowed to play basketball. He is a huge sports fanatic. If there is nothing on, he will watch golf. I would rather watch grass grow :)

  2. Tomte, I don't know if those things are really all that important! There very well may be wonderful examples, but if there aren't, it might just be because Laestadianism historically represented a parallel or counterculture, an alternative to what the prevailing culture deems important. In other words, what is important are the little things, the simple things. Beauty in simplicity. Quality in character and sacrifice, hearts dedicated to God's will and service to others. There certainly is beauty in that, in my opinion. And great books, music and films always seem to try and portray these human qualities. They are universal, and not restricted to any one group. They will resonate with all, if they are done well.

  3. Norah, I meant art in a very broad sense.

    Other counter-cultural groups like the Shakers and Amish created furniture and other handicrafts that reflected their theological vision. But I've never even heard of this much in Laestadianism.

    Shockingly, I did just a Google search for "Laestadian art" and the second hit was this very blog post!

  4. For me, art and aesthetic are extremely important, because they open up a way for me to feel God's presence.

    Probably why I didn't stay Laestadian --they were taking away a major way I connect with the Divine.

    There are many ways to feel connected to God; it's just a pity that the Leastadians only counted some of them as valid.

    In some ways it ties in with the Sunday School conversation. Growing up it seemed like the only "valid" way to have a Sunday school lesson was for a bunch of pre-confirmation teens to sit in a semi-circle around the instructor, who would flip open the King James Bible to some random passage which we'd read and then attempt to have a discussion about.

    Only it's hard to have a discussion when everyone is either bored or afraid of "getting it wrong."

    Imagine what it might have been like if the same group of kids could have drawn, or painted, or worked in clay, letting their imaginations bubble around the passage and seeing what it inspires.

  5. Inspired by this forum, I decided to make a film about OALC in Finland&Sweeden. Because my material (photos) is quite limited, the film is not very good, but it contains some pictures from OALC churches in USA.

    The preaching you can hear in background in other hand is very good. My opinion is still that OALC (at least nowdays), has the soundest doctrine of laestadian branches (along with ALC).

    Click on my nick, and it will take you to the film, or copy:


    (I Am also working on a much better film on laestadianism in USA, but it will come later).

  6. I understand that it is that way in many LLL churches, but it isn't necessarily that way in all of them.. Drawing, coloring, workbooks, games, fun songs, crafts were all a part of Sunday School both when I was a child and when I was teaching. And should it always have to be 'fun'? Should we always have a diet of candy? I don't think so. Nowadays it seems that things must be so 'child-centered' we dare not expect kids to endure anything they will not 'enjoy'. Bunk lol

    And I think that many LLL people are extremely gifted in many ways. Photography, for instance. Music for another. Years ago I saw oil paintings by a gifted IALC woman. Google "Janne Marttiini" and you'll discover a gifted blacksmith whose work is known all over the world and set a standard that others in his field still strive to achieve. He was also a LLL preacher and writer.

    Is it essential according to your question that Laestadians in particular must have developed a craft or art according to their theological vision? Or would you consider the artistic contributions of Finnish and Swedish people as a whole. Because there is no doubt that Scandinavian art has had worldwide influence.

    How has your creativity been encouraged since you left, Tomte.. is there a particular field that you enjoy and have developed?

  7. Laestadianinfo, is that OALC preaching in the background of this film? Too bad I can't understand it very well, and translating into Swedish doesn't help at all :-). I will try again later....

  8. Yes Norah, it is OALC preaching from Lahti translated to Swedish.

    A very good preaching.

    I hope ALC can start trading preachers with OALC, like we now do with LLC. OALC has far better preachers.

  9. lastadianinfo:

    Are you still part of the church, if so which one?

    It will be a cold day in July when the OALC mixes with ALC. They may share some of the basics,"the keys" etc, but they refer to the ALC as heritics. Also many of the women in the ALC now cut their hair and wear make-up etc. I live in one of the largest OALC and ALC parts of the country and make no mistake: The ALC is worse then the world in their books.

    I have friends from the OALC (now former members) and have gone to a few of their services. I sat thru the preacher saying- and I quote "The heritics will come to you dear brother and say they believe as you do. Do not believe them dear brother in true living faith..." I think they knew we were there do to the lack of head scarf. And respectfully, I do not think they have sound doctrine. Just the opposite. There is a reason you cannot find many pictures for your film.

    There was a minor controversy that involved the OALC a couple of years ago and many comments were posted in the opinion section of the paper. The Editor tried on several occasions to speak with, or interview the elders and he was refused.

    This is getting long but Norah I believe the scriptures are unchanging-but the times are. We need to reach and teach as modern as the era we live in. Music, theatre, art etc. You will lose people if you don't- simply because the rest of our world revolves around tech. advances, why not church? At Easter we had two artists on stage with the worship team and they painted on giant paper the meaning Easter. They were done with their paintings at the same time as the praise.

    You can reach kids with candy and relate it the word more effectively then a booring sit down sermon. In my never to be humble opinion:)

  10. I wouldn't care for that kind of service, PS. I don't think that the church needs that kind of change, and I actually believe that those methods have kind of run their course. Many people are tired of it, and are looking for something different. So I consider us as primed for the next revival. :-)

  11. You may be right Norah, it is a matter of preference. Our church continues to grow, we now have six services each weekend. You have concerns that your church is shrinking, what do you think is the cause? What do you think is next? I am just curious, is it just preference for you or do you have another reason?

  12. This is a very rural area, and many churches here have an aging and declining population. It's a totally different ballgame than churches in urban areas, and it can be challenging. On the other hand, there is more unity, I believe.. the quality of life is high as far as I'm concerned. We've had some setbacks due to several elderly people passing away, but there is still great interest in keeping the church going. Only God knows what the future is, but for now we are being served and our spiritual needs are being met, and we're thankful for that!

  13. Theres a lot of nice singing and church music in the LLC. No problem with studying and learning technique, but no professional performance. Heres a video I found of Phoenix LLC:


  14. Very nice, LLLurker! When you say 'no professional performance', do you mean that members are not allowed, or are discouraged from seeking a professional career as singers or performers? Do they perform only in church, or do they ever perform elsewhere...

  15. I was thinking about this some more last night, and aren't there some hymns in the various Laestadian hymnals where either the words or the music or both were written by Laestadians? If so, that might be the kind of thing I'm looking for.

    Google searching, I discovered that Lars Levi Laestadius wrote some poetry which is published in Fragments of Lappish Mythology. Pity the poetic sensibility doesn't seem to be passed down to his followers.

  16. Why would you say that, Tomte.. how do you know, and how can you speak in such generalities about a whole population of people? I'm confused.

  17. I don't mean to offend --I'm just putting it out there, and asking for someone to show me something I haven't seen before.

    I want to see the art, the architecture, the music, the poetry, the prayers, that have a Laestadian sensibility.

    I'm not being rhetorical. I really want to see them, if they exist.

  18. The LLC has come out with new music in the last 5-10 yrs, I didn't pay much attention to where that music came from, though! I'm not that into art-so I don't see the big deal about bringing it into churches. Each to their own, I guess. In the LLC it was never taught that art is sin-and they do lots of it. They have their yearbook, women meet to do scrapbooking...etc. I can't think of more, but there is definately art there. I agree with Ps in the sense that people learn better when it is made exciting. But I'll add that it is alot easier to listen to a sermon when you're older, and really believe in what they are teaching. I think that it's good to have somewhere for the kids to go-especially the ones who are too young to know better! We have a little over 1 yr. old daughter, and there is NO way she'll sit and be quite all through church. At church there is a play room I can take her into, and that way everyone else can enjoy church without a screaming kid!

  19. Tomte, Yes lots of the words in the LLC hymnal were written by Laestadians including lots of new songs in a hymnal just published. Not as much of the music itself i think but some. You also see poems from time to time in the Voice of Zion paper.

    Also there are some books with nice drawing like a series of stories on Jesus for kids. If your curious you can look at the LLC on line store at laestadianlutheran.org.

    Norah, yes, being a professional singer or performer is a no-no. Going to listen to concerts or plays too but you can listen to classical music at home, just like you can listen to a ball game on the radio but not watch it in person or on TV or on the internet. ???

  20. As for the OALC and the ALC being united, I think many people in Finland would be ready for that, but if they want to remain united with their friends in other countries they just can't because otherwise they would be considered heretics by their former friends in other countries.


    Laestadians build churches and prayer houses, so at least Laestadian architecture exists. :) I also know that there are some Laestadians (at least OALC and LLC) in Finland who have written novels. And believe it or not, there was also a group of OALC young people (in Finland) who made a movie a few years ago.

  21. "Are you still part of the church, if so which one?"

    I Am member of the ALC branch, and always been. Sometimes I go to LLC services. Because all branches are integrated in the lutheran church here in Finland, they have hard times to keep separated.

    For example will be a LLC priest preach at ALC summer services this year, and also in other ways be part of the happening.

    Our branch has also coperated with OALC in the Russia mission.

    I know a lot about OALC in Finland, and I really think they are very close to us. Members of OALC in Finland has in net discussions often told me they think our braches should unite.

    The problem is that the branches are geographically quite separated.

  22. I know there was one woodcarver in the OALC in Battle Ground by the name of Uskoski. I think he made the sign for the Brush Prairie church and I know there was a carving of his in the BG high school. I think he made a big mural in front of the Hockinson Elem. School too.

  23. Lastadianinfo:

    Started to watch your you tube movie but I don't inderstand finn. The tone of the preaching sounded all to familiar.

  24. Another Lurker7/03/2009 01:24:00 AM

    David Salmela is an award winning Minnesota architect. Here is a link to see his work, and another to read about his work.



  25. P.S:

    I Am working on an english movie about laestadianism. I try to make it my best movie so far. The owner of this blog has kindly promised to make a posting about it when it is ready.

  26. Hi, Laestadianinfo

    You told that you are designing a new movie about laestadianism. Would you please let us know via e-mail when it is completed? Our warmest thanks!

    Kind regards,


  27. My stepgrandfather was Janne Martiini. It is interesting you mention him. We have always loved his knives. He also published several books, the most well known "The Way To Happines".

    My Father was an artist and inventor, but the artist side of him was never encouraged.

    The late Oscar Wikkala was a well known inventor, as the story goes.Everyone in church and out of church knew him in the area. But I really can't remember what he invented.

    My sister has an art degree, it was never encouraged, or thought useful, she has really had some stuggles with this asking me often "why has God given me this talent and then made it a sin?"

    A good family friend, the late Stephen Kurtti was a great scetcher in pencil of early Columbia River gillnetting scenes, his work still exists in many homes.

    A well known ALC preacher made his name known nationally in his youth from a small Oregon town throwing the javlin, he was on his way to the Olympics, but turned it down because he felt it would be a stumbling block to his faith, faith came first.

    The lastadian movement has had some very talented and gifted people. The movement has never encouraged individual glory for glory sake, as I have seen it.Individual glory hasn't been important,faith was.

    I guess it is a personal choice, what is right for each of us in our heart.In life we continue to pray for guidance and understanding on a daily basis.

    L info...My sister lives in Espoo. She attends big meetings in Finland,Maybe you'l run into her? You never know.

  28. KJ- was that the Stephen Kurtti who wrote the song " A Christians walk?"

  29. I suppose one could count (for example) the mostly-anonymous songs in the IALC songbook.

    Personally, I wonder a bit if maybe Lestadianism itself isn't its own artistic black hole. Anything not anonymous would be giving credit to "man's mind" instead of God, after all, right? In my teenage years there was one time when some of us were singing church songs around a campfire. Someone started harmonizing, and although everyone agreed it sounded lovely, everyone also agreed that doing such things might be too "worldly." The harmonizing stopped in the very next song.

    So I think there should be some distinction between creatives who happen to be Lestadian, and people who create in a Lestadian tradition.

  30. Isn't it sad that something of beauty and a gift from God -- the ability to sing a song in some wonderful way (probably a song praising God), would be deemed too "worldly"? I suppose an argument could be made if the person doing the harmonizing was trying to demonstrate how they are better or able than anyone else. We could then talk about the devil of pride, but barring that, don't you think that praising God in the most glorious way we are able would be wonderful -- and that failing to use his gift is actually turning our back on him? Hmmm....